Kids cost an extra £1,000 a week in the school holidays (yikes!) – here’s how to limit the expense

New research reveals just how much the school holidays cost parents, but what they can do to reduce the impact?

Girl in wearing sunglasses striking a relaxed pose in a paddling pool
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Parents spend an extra £1,000 a week during the summer holidays, according to new research by life insurance broker Reassured. They recently surveyed 1,000 parents to reveal the actual cost of the school holidays and found that parents were typically spending a whopping £1,000 more a week during the summer break compared to term time.

School holidays are a great time to be a child. Six weeks of no school and nothing but time to do all the fun things and make memories that last a lifetime. But the cost of living crisis has made it difficult for many parents to make ends meet. When you consider how much it costs to raise a child and high average childcare costs, it's no wonder parents are desperate for ways to cut the cost of childcare. And the six weeks (or more) break from school can cost parents dearly, with many needing to save up in advance or alter their family budgets to cover the costs.'s Family Editor, Stephanie Lowe, says: "We started planning for the school holidays way ahead of time. When working out our family budget for the year, we came to terms with the fact we wouldn't be able to put money into our savings for July and August. Having made that decision ahead of time has made it all a little less stressful. But it's a real eye-opening experience to see just how much more we will spend while our son is off school."

We look at a breakdown of Reassured's survey findings and explain useful ways you can reduce the costs of entertaining the kids over the summer.

 The extra costs of the school holidays       

Reassured's research found that parents typically spend an average of £1,047.20 per week during the summer school holidays on extra costs for their children. The breakdown of the costs included £325.90 for childcare, £297.90 on summer camps, £226.80 on supermarket shopping and £196.90 on eating out.

To cover the extra expense, Reassured found that 36% of parents work additional hours to afford the expense of school holidays, while 27% of parents had borrowed money to entertain their children.

Girl in striped t shirt on a beach eating an ice cream, with ice cream smudge on her nose

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Going away on holiday typically sets parents back £481.30 per child if they go abroad and £328.40 if they stay in the UK. According to the study, nearly half of parents feel pressure to offer their children the same experiences as their peers during school holidays, even if they struggle to afford it.

Phil Jeynes, director of corporate strategy at Reassured, said: “We know that many people in the UK are feeling the financial strain of the cost-of-living crisis, and it’s concerning to see that parents are having to spend over £1,000 extra per week on various expenses for their children during the school holidays as highlighted by our study.”

 How to cut the cost of school holidays 

As well as finding places where kids eat free, finding cheap things to do with kids will be essential for many struggling parents this summer. Here are some suggestions...

1. Get outdoors

Exploring different environments on your doorstep can create lasting memories whilst keeping costs in check. 

Geocaching is essentially a digital treasure hunt, where kids use a GPS to discover buried containers - known as geocaches. You then sign the log to state you found the treasure, before moving onto your next discovery. 

2. Check out free activities

Look for opportunities to visit local museums, art galleries, farmers’ markets, adventure playgrounds, and "splash pads" (large communal paddling pools). 

Also, keep an eye out for any free concerts, events, or fetes happening in your area. Check your local newspaper, join a neighbourhood Facebook group or search on Eventbrite to find the latest goings-on where you live. 

You can also try this hack to get your kids free entry into 200+ attractions, better still that they have to apply for themselves, so that's another engaging (and free) activity to add to the list. 

Kids playing under a play parachute in a park on a sunny day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Sleep under canvas

Camping outdoors for the night can be a great adventure – even if it’s in your own garden. Other options are local campsites or even wild camping (but remember to check local laws and clear up after yourself). 

Summer is a great time to introduce your children to cooking over a fire (and trying our these camping recipes) and sleeping under the stars.

4. Swap homes

If you have friends who live in a different area and have similar age children, why not swap homes for a week? 

If you live in the city, swapping with a family in a rural area or by the coast will provide a completely new experience for your children, while your friends can enjoy city life.

Speaking of summer, will there be a heatwave this year? If so, you'll need to make sure you have the best sun cream and have sunburn remedies at hand if you need them.

Emma Lunn
Personal finance expert

Emma Lunn is a multi-award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance and consumer issues. With more than 18 years of experience in personal finance, Emma has covered topics including all aspects of energy - from the energy price cap to prepayment meter tricks, as well as mortgages, banking, debt, budgeting, broadband, pensions and investments. Emma’s one of the most prolific freelance personal finance journalists with a back catalogue of work in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and the Mirror.